WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Fantastic Four #6, from Dan Slott, Aaron Kuder, Marte Gracia, Erick Arciniega and VC’s Joe Caramagna, out now.
Fantastic Four #6 follows up on the cliffhanger of the previous issue, which saw the wedding of Ben Grimm, aka the Thing, and Alicia Masters almost derailed by not one but two of the Fantastic Four’s greatest foes: Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, and Doctor Doom. While it at first appears that the arrival of these two villains is purely circumstantial, by the end of the issue it’s revealed that they're more closely linked than we thought.
Galactus debuted in 1966's seminal Fantastic Four #48, “The Coming of Galactus,” when the Silver Surfer arrived on Earth to declare that our planet had been selected as the next meal for the Devourer of Worlds. Since then, we’ve seen Galactus attempt to eat Earth on multiple occasions, and succeed in obliterating countless other worlds to satisfy his insatiable hunger. We’ve even seen him cross into other realities, most notably his attempt to consume the Earth of 1610, aka the Ultimate Universe, but in Fantastic Four #6, he makes landfall in Latveria seemingly on a mission to once again devour our planet.
Rather than see his presence announced by the Silver Surfer or another herald, however, we learn that Galactus had returned from none other than Doctor Doom. The villain turned hero turned villain again (presumably) cast his image into the sky above Ben and Alicia’s ceremony, declaring that Galactus had once again returned, but that Doom alone would defeat him. Anyone who tried to interfere, he stated, would be doing so “under pain of death.” Unperturbed by this, the FF do what they do best and jet off to Latveria to face off against the Devourer of Worlds and, if necessary, Doctor Doom.
When they arrive, they’re confronted by the new Herald of, not Galactus, but Doom known as Victorious, a Latverian rebel who has been imbued with the Power Cosmic by Doom as a reward for her loyalty. It’s revealed later in the issue that using the Power Cosmic in this way is the very thing that has lured Galactus back to Earth. As Reed Richards explains, by creating a Herald, Victor has mistakenly created a beacon that has drawn the Devourer of Worlds to them and threatened the entire planet. It’s at this point that Doctor Doom berates his longtime rival, declaring that the arrival of Galactus wasn’t an arrogant miscalculation, but entirely by design.
The final page shows Doom from such an angle that he appears to be holding Galactus within his hands, a wonderful visual metaphor by artist Aaron Kuder: the mighty cosmic force of nature that is Galactus has been manipulated into returning to Earth by Doom. The newly recrowned ruler of Latveria gifted his most loyal subject with the unbelievable energy force of the Power Cosmic so that she would act as a beacon to draw the attention of the Devourer of Worlds. Only someone with an ego as big as Doom's would intentionally place the entire world at risk in order to satisfy his own ends.
What Doom has planned for Galactus remains to be seen, but it’s clear now why he didn’t want the Fantastic Four showing up to ruin his plans. Victor Von Doom has spent the last few years trying to be a hero, even adopting the title of the Infamous Iron Man when Tony Stark was in a coma and believed dead. After a battle which saw him once again badly scarred and defeated, however, he returned to Latveria to lick his wounds. This recent flirtation with being a hero might lead you to think that Doom had honorable intentions in this situation, that perhaps it was a coincidence that Galactus landed in Latveria, and maybe Doom wanted to regain his crown as a good guy. All stands revealed by the end of the issue, however. We now know that whatever Doom has planned, if he’s attempting to harness the powers of the Devourer of Worlds, those plans probably aren't good.